Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 97–106 | Cite as

Changes in soil carbon stock after cropland conversion to grassland in Russian temperate zone: measurements versus model simulation

  • Jaakko HeikkinenEmail author
  • Irina Kurganova
  • Valentin Lopes de Gerenyu
  • Taru Palosuo
  • Kristiina Regina
Original Article


The collapse of Soviet Union in early 1990s led to abandonment of large area of arable land which is assumed to act as a carbon (C) sink. We studied the ability of two dynamic soil C models (Yasso07 and RothC) to predict changes in soil C content after cropland abandonment. The performance of the models was compared using the results of a long-term experiment in Pushchino, Moscow region (54°50′N, 37°35′E) in Russia. The experiment was divided in four combinations of fertilizer or mowing treatments on former cropland soil. The soil C content was determined in the year of establishment (1980) and thereafter in 1999 and 2004. The soil C stocks increased by about 1.5- to 1.8-fold during the study period. Both models predicted the overall change in soil C relatively well (modelling efficiency of Yasso07 and RothC were 0.60 and 0.73, respectively). According to the models, the soil gained on average 140–150 g C m−2 year−1 during the first 5 years after conversion of cropland to grassland. The C sequestration rate decreased to 40–50 g C m−2 year−1 after 20 years of land use change. The sequestration rates estimated in this study are comparable to the rates observed in other studies.


Soil organic carbon Modeling Land-use change Temperate zone Abandonment of arable land 



We are grateful to Dr. Alla Larionova and Dr. Alexander Yermolaev for their collaboration in different phases of the study. We acknowledge Dr. Vera Ableeva (the Station of Background Monitoring, Danki, Moscow region) and the ECAD project ( for providing climate data. An anonymous reviewer helped us to improve the manuscript. The study was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry via the AgriYasso-Project, Russian Foundation for Basic Research (Projects 12-05-00197a, 12-04-00201a) and The Emil Aaltonen Foundation. Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry and Academy of Finland funded the travelling costs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaakko Heikkinen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irina Kurganova
    • 2
  • Valentin Lopes de Gerenyu
    • 2
  • Taru Palosuo
    • 3
  • Kristiina Regina
    • 1
  1. 1.MTT Agrifood Research Finland, PlantaJokioinenFinland
  2. 2.Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil ScienceRussian Academy of SciencesMoscow RegionRussia
  3. 3.MTT Agrifood Research FinlandHelsinkiFinland

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